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2013 Draft Prep: Nando Di Fino's Busts

Senior Fantasy Writer
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True story from within the walls of CBSSports.com: I actually pleaded to make this "busts" column just one very long "bust" column instead, centered solely on Melky Cabrera.

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It didn't fly. But know that whatever you read in Cabrera's little capsule below, I had many more strongly-worded, well-thought out reasons on why he will disappoint. I even pushed him far down my rankings -- in the 80s for outfielders -- to make sure he doesn't come anywhere near my queue. By the time I would consider him, once all the Lucas Dudas and Juan Pierres have been selected, he will be long gone, and I will be a happy man.

The rest of the players you'll encounter below may not fit the traditional definition of "bust." I simply feel like they're going a little too high for where I would want to pick them in drafts, or pay for them in auctions. Their output, in short, won't reach their lofty draft position. I may kind of like these players in a vacuum, but I'd like them more as a seventh-round pick, not a fourth-round one.

Here are your 2013 busts.

Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays (Roto: Rd. 8, H2H: Rd. 6)

There's a little tiny voice inside of me that likes to bubble up, in the middle of a sweaty, disorienting "I hate Melky" diatribe, and suggest that Cabrera just got into shape, dedicated himself to becoming a better player, and that the steroids -- which he tested positive for and admitted to taking -- had little to do with his development. I quickly squash that voice.

One of my favorite allies in the fight against Melky's legitimacy is the advanced stat known as BABIP. This seems like it would be at odds with the anecdotal "Melky used steroids and will stink this year" theme of my argument. But his BABIP rose the last two years (.332 in 2011 and .379 in 2012, with it never having gone above .288 in the three previous seasons), which suggests, at least to me, that Cabrera started hitting the ball with more authority, a result of strength gained from the PEDs.

Cabrera's rise in BABIP also could have been the result of him beating out more lightly-hit balls for singles, as his leg muscles grew stronger thanks to the drugs. This segues neatly into why his steals will probably go down. Where most of the griping about steroids over the past decade has been centered on power numbers, Cabrera had 33 total steals the last two seasons; he had 26 the three previous combined.

I can go on about the psychology of him being branded a cheater wherever he goes. Of the sluggishness his body will encounter as the season drags on and he has no juice left, so to speak, in the dregs of the summer months. But there are nine more busts to get to, and I think my point has been made.

Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers (Roto: Rd. 5, H2H: Rd. 3)

Let's pretend, just for a moment, that Greinke's elbow is totally fine and there's no worry associated with his arm. He's still going too early in drafts, ahead of Bryce Harper, R.A. Dickey, and David Wright in H2H leagues, and ahead of Matt Holliday, Dickey, and Ryan Zimmerman in Roto formats. Yes, Greinke was awesome in 2009, with a 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9. But he followed that up with a 4.17 ERA and 1.25 WHIP the next year, and it's easy to forget -- or at least overlook -- his relatively high 3.77 career ERA and 1.25 WHIP, including a 3.83 ERA in his last three seasons. Greinke has only managed a K/9 of 9.0 or above twice in his nine-year career. He's good, but I'm not sure his numbers justify his lofty draft status, which could lead to a disappointing high draft pick.

Now throw in the elbow issues on top of all this, and you can see why I'm side-stepping Greinke on Draft Day

Mike Trout, OF, Angels (Roto: Rd. 1, H2H: Rd. 1)

This isn't some attempt to get myself attention and have some big, smug "conversation" on Twitter with people who disagree. If I wanted to do that, I would have put him up top, made the picture a big one of Trout striking out, and blasted this story out every few minutes with annoyingly tantalizing teases like, "Trout a bust? Tell me what you think!"

This is simply an argument against Trout repeating his 2012, which has led to his inflated draft status. He may finish top 20 overall, but I doubt that Trout will be the No. 1 overall Fantasy player by the end of the year. For starters, Trout's power is due for a correction. I would be happy -- as a Trout owner -- with 20 home runs from him. I would expect his average to stay about the same -- with the chance for improvement -- and could see him stealing about 40 bases. Again, a .300-plus average with 17 home runs and 40 steals is a great season, but not No. 1 overall (and it also makes one wonder why Trout's 2012 gets all this love, while Jacoby Ellsbury's almost-identical 2011 -- with fewer strikeouts and more doubles -- is considered a fluke).

But here's the rub: almost all of the first-round picks -- outside of Miguel Cabrera -- have their own problems and downsides. So I still think Trout should be picked third overall, because he has a ton of (and I am inventing something here, so go along with me) Fantasy Pop Culture value, which makes him attractive in a trade. Trout is essentially a status symbol -- people want to have him on their teams because it's cool. Drafting Trout is kind of like booking Kim Kardashian to emcee your 16th birthday party, when you could probably pay the same amount for a music group that could do far more entertaining. At the end of the night, you may have liked the fact that she was there, but you probably would have enjoyed yourself more if you had hired The Roots instead.

I'm not saying don't draft Trout. I'm saying if you do, and you don't try to trade him immediately for smaller pieces that have more overall value, you may end up being disappointed by the end of the year.

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers (Roto: Rd. 3, H2H: Rd. 3)

I keep going back and forth on Kinsler.

On one hand, he's topped the 30 home run mark twice in the last four years. On the other hand, his home run and steal numbers took a marked dip in 2012, following a 32-homer, 30-steal career year in 2011. I think Kinsler, who is being drafted in or around the top 30, is getting the dual benefit of being in what people consider a shallow pool of second basemen, while the 2011 season dances in the heads of would-be owners. It's a dangerous combination.

First, because second base isn't especially shallow, especially for speculators who can scoop up Jedd Gyorko, Josh Rutledge, and Matt Carpenter in anticipation of the trio gaining second base eligibility at the end of the season's first week. Secondly, Kinsler's erratic output over the last five seasons -- over his entire career, in fact -- hits a floor that is comparable to Chase Utley's upside (some combination of 35-40 total steals and home runs).

One may argue that Utley is a gamble, but Kinsler's most consistent number has been his average, and not in a good way -- it has ended up between .253 and .257 in three of the last four years. Owners are passing on Adrian Beltre, David Wright and Justin Upton in order to shore up second base with Kinsler, but they're failing to recognize that a player like Jason Kipnis could outperform the Rangers second baseman -- especially considering Texas' loss of Josh Hamilton and the possibility that Kinsler might have to deal with a rhythm-interrupting mid-season position change to accommodate Jurickson Profar.

Chase Headley, 3B, Padres (Roto: Rd. 5, H2H: Rd. 6)

I am granting "Injury Absolution" to Headley (and his broken thumb) for right now, much like I did with Greinke. The problem I have with Headley is his sudden leap in power, as he went from four home runs in 2011 to 31 in 2012. There's a school of thought that Headley finally figured things out in 2012, tapping into the power he saw in the minors and clicking, at long last, on the major league level. And with PETCO Park moving the fences in this year, Headley stands to gain even more in the power department.

But I take the opposite route. Headley saw a huge, almost unbelievable, jump in HR/FB rate, from 4.3 percent in 2011 to 21.4 percent in 2012. Basically, one out of every five fly balls he hit went out of the park. His highest rate prior to last season came in 2008, when he had a 10.7 percent HR/FB rate. His overall fly ball percentage didn't change, nor did his GB/FB ratio (at least not enough to make a note of it). And while he hit a handful more home runs on the road than at home, Headley's most interesting split came when comparing his second half to his first, as he hit 19 home runs in the last two months of the season.

In other words, by the end of August, Headley had 12 home runs. He more than doubled that in his final 57 games. To me, that's a hot streak, not a steady progression of power that he built up over the course of a year. Even with Headley's ADP drop thanks to the broken thumb, he still started out far too high -- based on one power-filled season -- to be attractive enough to grab in a draft.

Alex Rios, OF, White Sox (Roto: Rd. 8, H2H: Rd. 9)

The beef with Rios isn't that he is incapable of having a good season; it's that drafters have short memories and are picking him up based on his 2012, acting like it was a major breakout ... at the age of 31.

We've been down this road with Rios before, only to discover that everything looks vaguely familiar, before realizing the road is just one large circle, leading us back to where we started (namely, one of his down seasons). Rios has the ability to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases, but he's accomplished both in the same year just twice over nine seasons. To his credit, those two 20/20 seasons have come in the last three years, but he has a trend, throughout his career, of following up promise with disappointment. It's a constant see-saw with Rios -- he can hit a lot of doubles, but won't do so with consistency. He cut down his strikeouts, but also brought down his walks. He has never hit 18 home runs two seasons in a row and has never stolen 25 bases two seasons in a row.

There's always a qualifier with Rios -- two seasons ago, two of his last three, four of his nine years. The term here is "maddening," and Rios is the poster child. With a good season under his belt in 2012, history has led us to believe that 2013 should be more of the 15 home run, 20 steal variety, doing little, ultimately, to justify his ADP.

Rafael Soriano, RP, Nationals (Roto: Rd. 8, H2H: Rd. 8)

If Soriano signed with any other team, I'd be leaving him off all of my lists -- neither a breakout nor bust, just a solid closer who could get 40 saves. But Washington manager Davey Johnson has three closers at his disposal. And he's been known throughout his managerial career to give away some saves to pitchers who weren't his primary closer, including Hector Carrasco, Roger McDowell, Armando Benitez, and Chuck McElroy.

Granted, the bullpen usage history isn't easily explained away by saying, "Johnson mixes and matches," (there are injuries, cold streaks, implosions, etc.) but he has a track record of using secondary pitchers in save situations, he has two pitchers who saved 32 (Tyler Clippard) and 43 (Drew Storen) games in the last two seasons serving as middle relievers, and the Nationals could probably benefit from giving Soriano a day off here and there to keep his arm fresh for the postseason.

Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers (Roto: Rd. 11, H2H: Rd. 11)

The beauty of Cruz has always been his ability to hit 20 home runs and steal 10-15 bases, while batting over .270. In actuality, this season played out exactly one time, in 2010: Cruz his .318 with 22 home runs and 17 steals. His 2009, arguably better, saw Cruz launch 33 homers and steal 20 bases, but his average stalled out at .260.

In fact, looking at Cruz' full body of work, one realizes that his big stats may have been a bit of a mirage: he's hit 25 or more home runs just twice. He's stolen 20 bases just once. He's hit over .270 in a season with more than 150 at-bats one time. While Cruz managed 159 games played in 2012, he averaged 120 games the three previous years.

Cruz' potential lies in those 42 games per season he never played -- he could hit 30 home runs, but he's always hurt. He could bat .280, but... well, he doesn't. Cruz is going to play 2013 without Josh Hamilton and it appears as though he's stopped trying to steal bases. Are 22 home runs, eight steals, and a .260 average enough to draft Cruz over Brett Lawrie, Wilin Rosario, or even Josh Willingham? I say no. The potential isn't the problem with Cruz, it's the convergence of the counting stats into one single stat line that he can't seem to deliver on.

Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays (Roto: Rd. 9, H2H: Rd. 9)

From 2007 to 2011, Rodney pitched 266 2/3 innings. He made 270 appearances. And his ERA was 4.42 and WHIP sat at 1.50. In 2012, Rodney had a 0.60 ERA with a 0.78 WHIP. His walk rate was the lowest of his career. His strikeout rate was the highest since 2008. He did it all at the age of 35.

Yes, there is a chance that Rodney moved his mound position, adopted a new outlook on things, and essentially became a new pitcher. That would be a great story -- a late-career blooming of talent, a pitching coach who corrected a flaw, a hard-throwing reliever with a new outlook on life and his career. Amy Adams could play the pitching coach's daughter falling in love with the team's mascot, who Rodney became friends with as both sat dejected one night in spring training 2012, before their lives were turned around.

More likely, however, Rodney just caught lightning in a bottle, and is due for a major correction in 2013. Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, and Huston Street -- all being taken after Rodney -- are safer options.

Marco Scutaro, SS/2B, Giants (Roto: Rd. 16, H2H: Rd. 13)

Scutaro hit seven home runs and stole nine bases last year, while batting .306. He is being drafted ahead of about 80 players more deserving of that roster spot. Fine, Scutaro can hit doubles -- and I would guess he gets around 30 playing for the Giants this year. Plus, Scutaro has seen his average climb in the last few seasons: before 2009, his career average was .261. Four years later, he has raised it to .276.

But I'm not sure what people are expecting from Scutaro -- he's Omar Infante with less power and steal potential. Infante's career average is just one point (.275) below Scutaro's. You can give a slight edge in points leagues to Scutaro, but to the extent where Scutaro is the 145th player taken while Infante is wallowing around the 320s? And it's not just Infante who looks like a value in comparison -- Neil Walker is slotting in at 189, Dustin Ackley is sitting at 192, and Howard Kendrick is at 249. A drafter could get similar value from those three players, and they're going several rounds after Scutaro.

It's a little crazy to me that Scutaro is being drafted high enough to even get bust consideration, but an ADP putting him in the 16th round makes him a starter, and Scutaro will end up disappointing owners who ignore the downside of this pick.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Cubs rookie Addison Russell delivers walk-off hit Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:05 am ET) Cubs rookie Addison Russell delivered the clutch hit Tuesday against the Nationals, as he lifted Chicago to a 3-2 win with a game-ending RBI double in the ninth inning. Russell lined a 1-0 pitch off Matt Grace beyond center fielder Denard Span's reach for his third hit of the game.

"My whole mindset going into that at-bat is to just keep the same approach, stay calm, see the pitch that you want to swing at and hit it," Russell said, per MLB.com. "Don't try to do too much.

"It was a great feeling. I was really into seeing the ball good tonight and things just happened. I think that tonight was a good night."

Russell is the third-youngest player in the majors. He is not lighting the world on fire offensively, but he has hit safely in 23 of 31 games since his promotion from the minors. He is also having his struggles in the field as he makes the transition from shortstop to second base.

Still, manager Joe Maddon seems to be happy with the rookie's progression.

"It's not easy to fight through that at that age with that lack of experience," Maddon said. "His mental toughness is really incredible how he's fought through all these difficult moments himself. He's not used to failing.

"So understand where a lot of guys at that age are, developmentally. They're not here. They're somewhere else, without the spotlight on them, learning their craft. And he's done it on the fly here and he's doing a great job."


Mariners CF Austin Jackson makes immediate impact Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:01 am ET) In his first game since landing on the disabled list in early May, Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson played an early role in the team's 7-6 win over the Rays on Tuesday. Jackson, who missed time with an ankle injury, singled to lead off the game, then stole second, went to third on a throwing error, and scored on a single. All of this before an out was recorded.

Jackson also made an impressive running catch in center field in the bottom of the first inning.

"I thought he looked fabulous," manager Lloyd McClendon said,per MLB.com. "He really jump-started our offense. A line-drive base hit, stole a base, went to third, scored a run. Next inning took a run away. I don't know what more you want out of a leadoff center fielder."

The first-inning single was his only hit of the game, but Jackson was just happy to be back on a big-league field.

"It's exciting. It almost feels like the first day again," Jackson said prior to the game. "You want to come back and help, but you have to make sure you're ready. You don't want to come back half-speed. Getting to play those [rehab] games and get right physically was important, but I think it helped mentally as well."


Reds 2B Skip Schumaker will bat leadoff against Rockies
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:59 am ET) Skip Schumaker will be at the top of the lineup when the Reds take on the Rockies on Wednesday.

Schumaker will be in the leadoff spot for just the third time this season.

Schumaker was called into Tuesday's game in a pinch-hit situation in the ninth inning. He doubled to left field and Marlon Byrd scored the game-winning run. 

For the season, Schumaker is hitting .254 in 51 at-bats.


Rangers CF Delino DeShields back in the lineup Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:55 am ET) Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields is back in the starting lineup for Wednesday's matinee with the Indians. DeShields will be in center field and bat lead-off for manager Brian Bannister.

DeShields got the night off on Tuesday in favor of Leonys Martin. But with the former swining the bat well, he'll get the start on Wednesday. DeShields is riding a modest six-game hitting streak, during which is he batting .304 with a double and a triple. 


Nats' Williams on Strasburg: He's healthy but struggling with command
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET) It has been a frustrating start to the season for Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who is 3-5 with a 6.50 ERA through his first nine starts.

His ERA has not been lower than 4.50 after a start this season, and manager Matt Williams pinpoints the right-hander's issues on not having a good feel for his fastball.

"The issue has been fastball command," Williams told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday. "The command hasn't been there. For all intents and purposes, he's healthy."


Indians David Murphy will have extended role against Rangers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:49 am ET) Indians' David Murphy will start in right field for just the fourth time this season on Wednesday against the Rangers. 

Murphy, who sees the majority of his playing time as a designated hitter, is hitting .322 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 93 at-bats this season.


Yankees SP Masahiro Tanaka to make rehab start Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:48 am ET) Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to make his second rehab start on Wednesday, and will throw around 65 pitches with Triple-A. Tanaka is nearing his return from the disabled list, as he recovers from forearm soreness and wrist tendinitis. And the Yankees are very much looking forward to Tanaka's return.

“We know how much he means to this team,” general manager Brian Cashman said, per the New York Post. “Him being healthy changes this team a lot.”

Tanaka's next step could be to rejoin the rotation if Wednesday's start goes well.

“I think you want to hear that the stuff was sharp, that he was able to locate his pitches, that he was able to use his pitches and he feels comfortable the next day,” manager Joe Girardi said.


Braves ace Julio Teheran frustrated with struggles through 10 starts
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:47 am ET) Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran is not happy with how his season has gone through the first two months of the season. Following Tuesday's loss against the Dodgers, the right-hander has a 4.91 ERA and .303 opponents' batting average through 10 starts.

"I've never gone through this kind of thing," Teheran said, per MLB.com. "But I'm just trying to learn from it and trying to do my best to get through it. Hopefully, I can work hard and get back to where I want to be like I did the past two years."

Teheran is having a lot of struggles against left-handed batters. The right-hander has a 5.66 ERA and .371 opponents' batting average vs. lefties.

"It comes down to execution of pitches," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Those pitches he's trying to get to come back against left-handers are getting left right over the middle of the plate. He's not missing barrels. We need to work on that."


Indians SS Mike Aviles gets the start against Rangers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:41 am ET) Indians shortstop Mike Aviles will make his second consecutive start against the Rangers on Wednesday. 

Aviles, who went 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout in his team's 4-3 loss on Tuesday, will look to improve his .310 batting average after getting another start under his belt.


Yankees RP Dellin Betances strikes out the side in Tuesday's win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(9:40 am ET) Yankees reliever Dellin Betances pitched another perfect inning in Tuesday's victory over the Royals. He struck out the side in the eighth inning, continuing his dominant season thus far.

The hard-throwing righty hasn't allowed an earned run this season. And perhaps even more impressive is the fact he hasn't given up a hit in his last 8 2/3 innings, spanning seven appearances. 

"We get paid to get outs," Betances said, per the New York Post. "I try to do the best job I can out there. I always try to improve on whatever I need to do. I feel good, I’ve felt good for a long time."

And he's looked good too. He has a terrific 13.7 K/9 ratio after Tuesday's performance.

"His confidence just seems to be growing," Tuesday's starter and winner Adam Warren said. "He’s always had that stuff, but he knows how to harness it now. It’s getting to the point of ridiculousness."


 
 
 
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